Euthanizing papal credibility
August 7, 2018 § 29 Comments
He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. – Jesus Christ, second Person of the Holy Trinity
Addressing the announced changes to the Catechism on the death penalty, changes categorically asserting its ‘inadmissibility,’ Joseph Shaw writes:
If [the Holy Father’s theological advisers] are not bound by past popes, there is no reason why future popes should be bound by this statement, and indeed the authority of Pope Francis over Catholics today is called into question.
[Compatibility with the teaching of previous popes, councils, etc] is not the natural reading of the text, but one might argue that since it is purporting to represent the teaching of the Church we must read it if humanly possible in accord with previous authoritative statements of that teaching. On the other hand, bishops and theologians supposedly friendly to Pope Francis are loudly saying that the natural reading is the correct one…
This is no accidental ambiguity: it is a design feature. In this case the mouse-hole of ambiguity conservative Catholics need to crawl through to maintain the continuity between the two editions of the Catechism is humiliatingly small. When they have crawled through it, moreover, they will be ignored.
 It takes a certain skill to effectively make ambiguous categorical assertions. But that skill is required when the point is authoritative self-immolation of authority.